It has been awhile since William Chrisman has defeated crosstown rival Fort Osage.
Twelve years to be exact as the Bears last defeated the Indians in 2005.
Since then, Fort has had their number, winning 11 in a row against Chrisman, including twice last year, with one victory coming in the district championship game.
That kind of success against the Bears has given the Indians a lot of confidence when they play their rivals. “The way coach describes (Chrisman), 'They are our little brothers. We need to knock them around and put them back in their place when they think they can beat us,' ” Fort Osage linebacker Antonio Garcia said after his team’s 23-0 win over Chrisman in the regular season.
At 7 p.m. today, Chrisman and Fort Osage meet once again in the Class 5 District 7 championship.
The two teams are no strangers to giving each other bulletin board material such as the aforementioned quote.
Last year, when Fort Osage handed a previously undefeated Chrisman team its first loss, former Bears coach Scorpio Horn said, “Tonight was their Super Bowl and they won it.”
Added running back Uriah Aleshire: “We’re sick of being the little brothers. I think we’re going to go out there and prove that the little brothers have grown up a little bit.”
It’s clear that these two Independence schools are big-time rivals.
This year, Chrisman has more motivation than ever to end its 11-game skid against the Indians. The Bears want to make its first state quarterfinal game in program history and they want to get over the hump that’s Fort Osage.
“We just have to prove that we’re not the little brothers,” Chrisman wide receiver Tre’Vaughn Sisco said. “We just have to smack them in the mouth and not get hit and try to fight back.”
It’s going to start with the Chrisman offense, which has been up and down this season, averaging 21 points per game. The Bears (7-3) will have a challenge offensively against a Fort defense that has yielded just 14.8 points per game.
As it has in recent years, Chrisman will lean on its ground game, led by the duo of Uriah Aleshire and Christian Felix. The twosome has 1,219 of the team’s 1,742 rushing yards. The Bears will need to find a way to get the running game going against an Indian team that held them to just 113 yards of total offense.
“We just need to show we can stay with them,” Aleshire said. “I think we beat ourselves up more than they beat us up. We just couldn’t convert on the good field position we had last time.”
As of late, the Chrisman offense has improved, said head coach Matthew Perry. In its last two games, the team has scored 74 combined points.
“The offense has taken a step forward and the offensive line has jelled more,” Perry said. “Our kids have learned to practice harder. They’ve pushed each other in practice harder than in the past. A lot of games are won based on your preparation. That’s where I thought we’ve gotten better.
“Dawson Herl has 10 games under his belt at quarterback and he’s a lot better than he was at the beginning of the season.”
On defense, Chrisman is like Fort in that both team’s strengths are on that side of the ball. The Bears have yielded 17.1 points per game and are led by Division I recruit Daniel Carson and all-state linebacker Emori Thomas.
“We just have to play them like last time,” Thomas said. “I am not worried about it. We only gave up 10 points until the last few minutes. They aren’t anything special. It’s nothing that Daniel, I and the rest of the defense haven’t stopped before. It’s going to come down to who wants it more.”
That will present a challenge to a Fort Osage offense that has averaged 31.5 points per game, but the Indians have found ways to score on special teams and defense, too. Head coach Brock Bult said the key will be keeping the offense balanced. The Indians have done a good job of that with 1,729 yards passing and 1,571 rushing.
“They put their stock on their defense,’ Bult said of Chrisman. “They probably have the best defensive line we’ve seen all year by far. All four of them are talented and big. We’re just going to have to come out with a balanced attack.”
The defense hopes to repeat what it did against Chrisman during the regular season meeting and slow down an improving Bears rushing attack.
“Those are a couple of the main guys you have to stop,” Fort Osage linebacker Von Young said of Aleshire and Felix. “We just have to do what we do in practice and get it done.”
While the Indians have had a lot of success against the Bears, Bult is driving home the point to his team not to take Chrisman lightly.
“Just because you beat them once, doesn’t mean they are going to lay down for you,” Bult said. “We still have to get ready to play and do what we do.”
If they do, there could be an upset for the Bears.
“We can get past Fort this week and whoever we got next week,” Thomas said. “It’s just the next team up with us.”